Building a Successful Single-Ply Roofing Maintenance Program
What can managers do if they have already designed and installed a single-ply roof? No matter when a roof maintenance program is implemented, the sooner it can begin, the greater the savings will be. Managers can take three steps to get started.
Gather historical data. Maintaining electronic or hard-copy files of the roof system's design, as well as its installation method, can make the future diagnosis of a roof deficiency and its repair or maintenance much more efficient. Managers should consider keeping the following records for roofing projects:
- as-built drawings and specifications
- meeting minutes covering pre-bid, preconstruction and progress
- shop drawings and product-information sheets
- daily construction reports
- warranty information from the manufacturer and contractor
- inspection, maintenance and repair records
- changes or modifications to the roof or roof equipment
- other relevant correspondence related to the project.
Conduct a comprehensive evaluation. Conducting a roof survey provides a solid foundation for a roof-maintenance program. The information contained in a survey allows managers to plan, prioritize, and make informed decisions regarding maintenance, repair and possible replacement of roof assets.
A comprehensive survey should include a written report describing roof conditions, specific deficiencies, a detailed roof plan, recommended actions, five-year budget estimates, and supporting photographs and videos.
Several factors determine the frequency of surveys, including roof age and condition, the environment, roof traffic, building function, interior sensitivity, roof size and access, and location.
At a minimum, workers should perform follow-up roof walkovers semi-annually, as well as after major storm events. Managers also should incorporate monthly housekeeping surveys, pre-warranty expiration surveys, and infrared thermography surveys as part of the overall maintenance plan.
These surveys should identify obvious membrane and flashing defects and ensure the roof is free of any debris that could restrict or clog roof drains. Conducting a roof survey before the expiration of the warranty — either the contractor's or the manufacturer's warranty — provides an opportunity to identify warrantable defects and facilitate their repair.
Finally, a trained technician can conduct an infrared thermography survey, if appropriate for the roof system, every three to five years. The survey allows managers to visually assess whether entrapped moisture is located within the roof system.
Managers trying to determine who should complete these surveys should remember the quality of the information gathered and its analysis depends on the skill, knowledge, and experience of the investigator. Managers must be sure to consider the objectivity and competence of the individual selected to complete the surveys, regardless if they are employees or outside professionals.
Execute the plan. Information contained in the roof survey is time-sensitive, and managers must treat it accordingly. Roofs do not remain in a static condition. If workers do not repair deficiencies identified during the survey in a timely manner, a minor expense can easily and quickly result in increased repair costs and even a premature roof failure.
A well-conceived and -executed roof maintenance plan is one of the most cost-effective and sustainable strategies managers can implement to maximize the service life of a single-ply roof while demonstrating efficient use of company funds.
Unfortunately, regardless of how cost-effective roof maintenance is, it also continues to be one of the least-used strategies for cost-effectively extending the service life of a new single-ply roof.
Alvin Nunnikhoven is a registered roof consultant and a senior consultant and partner with Benchmark Inc., a roof and pavement consulting company. Eric Hasselbusch is the company's marketing director.